Hartford, CT

Contact Name
Will K. Wilkins
Project Dates
8/2012 to 12/31/2012
Event, Design
In 2012 Real Art Ways, in conjunction with the Wadsworth Atheneum and the City of Hartford, with support from the Ct. Commission on the Arts, commissioned and produced artist Adam Niklewicz's Charter Oak, a water-activated, large scale image on the side of a vacant building in downtown Hartford. When wet, the wall displayed an image of the historic Charter Oak, an icon of early American history. A video projected onto an adjacent wall was an image of a young tree, spinning in air.

This project has attracted world-wide attention. It was one of 7 projects funded by the State of Connecticut, designed to activate empty walls in urban areas in the state.

This is a continuation of work Real Art Ways has been doing since the early '90s with more than 30 public projects produced.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
Bring life and creativity to empty space in the downtown area.
Show that artists can impact perceptions, and contribute to positive place-making.
Support an artist with his vision.
Generate awareness.
Have they changed over time?
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Real Art Ways, Wadsworth Atheneum, City of Hartford, State of Connecticut, Greater Hartford Arts Council
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
Real Art Ways was approached by the City of Hartford to do the project. The Wadsworth Atheneum joined the team. meetings were held. Two artists were proposed. Adam Niklewicz' proposal was chosen. The site was chosen. Work progressed a break-neck speed. The project was completed by August.

Please view this video for a good overview: http://vimeo.com/50738732
Have they been refined over time?
Don't understand this question.
What were your major obstacles?
Time was short.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Having full funding from the beginning. City hired a consultant who took on project details very effectively. Real Art Ways' experience mounting public art projects, and working with artists, was fundamental. Wadsworth's commitment to the project was important.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Having funding before the work starts is fundamental. Getting local authorities on your side is important. There is no substitute for working with an outstanding artist.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
Showed that public art doesn't have to be only what people expect, that creativity can draw people together.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
100%. Positive response from media, from those who have seen it, positive editorial in Hartford Courant, widespread dissemination online. Showed that empty spaces can be activated in compelling ways.
Were there unexpected impacts?
remains to be seen. We are hoping that the state will continue to support creative place-making projects.